No ‘ill will’ in body bag shipment
OTTAWA An internal investigation into why a remote First Nations community in Manitoba received dozens of body bags as residents were preparing for the swine flu pandemic found no “ill will” on the part of federal officials.
“It was a clear overestimation and there was no evidence of ill hermes uk will or deliberate calculations,” Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq told a news conference in Ottawa today.
The report of a Health Canada probe made public today admits the order for 100 body bags by the nursing station at Wasagamack First Nation an isolated community of about 1,750 in northern Manitoba was “disproportionately high” compared to the orders from other nursing stations across the country.
A firestorm of protest from opposition politicians and native leaders erupted mid September over the body bag mix up, with many taking it as a sobering prediction of how the H1N1 influenza pandemic would impact the vulnerable First Nations communities.
But the report blamed an environment that had senior management advising nursing stations “to order generously and fill supply rooms” because they were concerned about backlogs and bottlenecks as facilities nationwide sought to boost their own pandemic supplies.
The report noted the nurses had faced challenges getting enough supplies for the nursing station during the first wave of the pandemic this spring and t hermes uk hat it would require a plane and an all terrain vehicle to transport supplies to the community in the winter.
The nurse in charge placed an order for 100 and 38 were received. “There was no evidence, however, of ill will or deliberate calculation of on the NIC’s or anyone else’s part.”
Rosenberg is scheduled to appear before the Commons health committee this afternoon.
Further investigation revealed other nursing stations in Manitoba placed five orders for body bags between August and September, but departmental records show they were all on back order and so none ended up being shipped.
The report said that nursing stations staffed with healthcare workers who live in the communities they serve remain the best way to assess needs for supplies but Health Canada is nonetheless implementing procedures to ensure such an event does not happen again. “It is further recommended that ordering patterns be reviewed by Regional staff when conducting quarterly audits.”
Chief Jerry Knott of the Wasagamack First Nation did not think much of the news yesterday that Health Canada had determined there was no ill will involved in what his community considered a traumatic affront.
“It’s not legitimate to me, because when you investigate your own self or your program there tends to be cover ups and you want to report to the public the best way that you can to give notice to the public,” Knott said in an interview Wednesday. “There should have been an independent review, investigation on this, to legitimize the concern, because the body bags were received first rather than the intervention kits. . . I have no interest at all with the latest news of the Health Minister explaining the investigation. It’s not legitimate at all.”
Jim Wolfe, regional director with the First Nations and Inuit health branch of the department, sent a letter to the chief and council of the Wasagamack apologizing for the error on Sept. 21.
“I apologize to all of you for the alarm, fear and anxiety this created as this was not intended,” Wolfe wrote.
Deb Merchant, the nurse in charge of the Wasagamack nursing station since September 2008, referred all questions to her boss Joe Gacheru in Winnipeg.
Gacheru was not immediately available for comment, but a Health Canada media spokesperson contacted the Star in response to an email sent to him directly.
The report said that Merchant “appears to be well integrated into the community and indicated that recent events have not negatively impacted her interactions with patients”.
Knott echoed that view and said he did not find Merchant hermes uk at fault for the mistake.
“I don’t blame her. It’s the officials in Health Canada,” Knott said. “What they hermes uk think that what we need here, they’re just going by assumptions because they don’t know the isolated community, they don’t know the grassroots, they haven’t experienced that. It’s just basically what they read and what they know and what they think: that’s what they base their decisions on.”